New York legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes in 2014. Recreational use remains illegal. Possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana was decriminalized in 1977 to a $100 fine.
There are eight federally-recognized tribes in New York. The DOJ marijuana policy on tribal reservations applies to these New York tribes. Each is federally recognized as sovereign by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Interior Department.
For a complete list of New York tribes and their locations, see our page about New York Tribes.
Hemp is a variety of Cannabis plant grown for industrial use.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will allow tribes to self-administer hemp production on their reservations if they submit an acceptable plan. See U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.
USDA-Approved Hemp Plans - NEW YORK
|Cayuga Nation of New York|
Seneca Nation of Indians
|State of New York||Under USDA|
May 2, 2021
Some New York tribes are taking steps to open recreational marijuana businesses on their reservations following the enactment of the state's new marijuana law. Tribal land is sovereign and not subject to the state law.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation announced plans in April to break ground for cultivation and a processing facility on their tribal land for the purpose of selling recreational marijuana. Retail sales would be made at the Shinnecock smoke shops on Montauk Highway. Sales could start as early as this Fall.
The Saint Regis Mohawks are taking steps to pursue a similar business on their reservation. The tribe is drafting a tribal ordinance to regulate a marijuana retail business.
The Seneca Nation of Indians is already operating a USDA-approved hemp business, and has previously expressed interest in expanding into recreational marijuana.
The Cayuga Nation also operates a USDA-approved hemp business, however, the tribe has not announce plans to enter the recreational marijuana market.
The Oneida Indian Nation has publicly confirmed it is studying the opportunity for a recreational marijuana business.
Other tribes have not announced plans but are may do so in the coming months.
April 15, 2021
The Shinnecock Indian Nation announced plans to open a marijuana dispensary within the next few months, and also break ground on a marijuana-cultivation facility in the next few weeks. If tribal members approve pending regulations for recreational marijuana sales, those sales could begin at the Shinnecock smoke shops on Montauk Highway as early as September.
The Shinnecock will break ground on a 20,000-square-foot cultivation facility within a few weeks. The facility will be build on reservation land in the same economic zone as the Shinnecock Casino Hamptons planned for 2022.
January 4, 2021
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has partnered with MMJ BioPharma Cultivation Inc. to grow cannabis on 20 acres of reservation land near the Canadian border. The crop will be grown under a special Drug Enforcement Administration permit and sold only to medical facilities, labs, research centers and government institutions.
The DEA permit is pending while the agency finalizes its criteria. The permit will allow the construction of a 500,000-square-foot building containing indoor cultivation acreage plus extraction and lab facilities. About 40 tons of dry cannabis will be grown every year.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe did not invest cash in the partnership. Instead it is leasing its land to MMJ for 25 years for payments and a percentage from cultivation and sales.
July 3, 2020
The Shinnecock Indian Nation began construction of a medical marijuana dispensary and wellness lounge last November on Montauk Highway within their Southampton reservation. Construction was temporarily stopped in March for COVID-19, however, the contractor has resumed construction and expects completion by end of year.
The opening dates for the dispensary and wellness center have not been announced.
Artist rendering of Shinnecock medical marijuana dispensary & wellness lounge
The Shinnecock Indian Nation also plans to start construction this summer on a 100,000-250,000 square foot indoor medical marijuana cultivation and processing facility. The site will be a remote location on the Shinnecock reservation.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation has partnered with Conor Green Consulting LLC to provide industry expertise in developing and managing these projects.
For more information see Shinnecock Nation breaks ground on medical marijuana dispensary.
December 26, 2019
The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe members voted Dec. 14 to approve medical marijuana and the future recreational use of marijuana. This week the vote was certified by the tribal Election Board. Medical marijuana passed 175-29 (86%), and the future recreational marijuana passed 155-49 (76%).
The medical marijuana referendum approved a Medical Marijuana Ordinance:
"The Medical Marijuana Ordinance requires the establishment of two regulatory bodies to oversee all aspects of its availability within the Territory - the Akwesasne Public Health Authority and the Akwesasne Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. The three-member Public Health Authority will administer the rules and regulatory requirements of the ordinance, while the five-member Advisory Board will provide guidance on scientific and technical matters. Both regulatory bodies will be filled through a community call-out and need to be in place prior to medical marijuana being available in the Territory at a tribally licensed dispensary. The qualifications, responsibilities, and other requirements of board members will be shared in the call-out."
For more information, visit www.srmt-nsn.gov.
December 1, 2019
The Shinnecock Indian Nation is building a medical marijuana dispensary on reservation land in Southampton, New York. The 3,600-square-foot facility is being built on Montauk Highway adjacent to the Shinnecock smoke shops and food stores.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held Nov. 20, 2019. An opening date has not been announced and will depend on the processing time for state licensing.
The tribe plans several steps in a long-term plan to eventually grow, process and resale its own cannabis products. The first step will be to buy from state-licensed growers and resale to medical marijuana users in compliance with the Compassionate Care Act and approval from the NY Department of Health.
Bryan Polite, Chairman at Shinnecock Nation, confirmed this plan. "We want to be part of the state system. We would only be servicing licensed patients under the New York State system."
In addition to medical marijuana, the new facility will offer acupuncture and other health and wellness services.
The tribe passed resolutions in 2016 authorizing the marijuana dispensary and a marijuana cultivation operation. The tribe expects high earning potentials from both.
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